Employees’ individual readiness for quality improvement change : A single case-study analysis within the European food and drink industry

University essay from Blekinge Tekniska Högskola/Institutionen för industriell ekonomi

Abstract: Background: The European Union’s (EU) food and drink industry has faced declining competitiveness over the past two decades. Methodologies associated with the quality improvement has been recognized as a possible solution to increase competitiveness of the industry. However, there are uncertainties among researchers and practitioners of how to implement these quality improvement methodologies and researchers of today requests further understanding in why some firms perform better than others when applying the same practices. Objectives: The purpose of this thesis is to investigate if the concept of ‘individual readiness for organizational change’ can be used as a measurement to better understand why some firms perform better than others when applying the same quality improvement initiations within the EU food and drink industry. Methods: The researcher of this thesis uses secondary data from existing literature on quality improvement imitations, according to Luning and Marcelis (2009) definition of quality improvement as a part of the food quality management system (FQMS), to justify the need for ‘individual readiness for organizational change’ measurements, defined by Holt et al. (2007), and uses primary data from the conduction of a single-case study, of an Swedish fruit and vegetable operating organization that were about to embark a Lean manufacturing piecemeal approach implementation, to validate the need for assuring individual readiness for change before any food and drink industry invests in quality improvement implementations. Results: The findings of the primary data collection are accordant with existing literature where individual employees were found to display lower levels of ‘individual readiness for organizational change’ perceived the organization to have lack of proper communication or were more resistant towards the implementation. Employees whose daily activities were more orientated around other FQMS practices such as quality assurance and quality control, displayed lower levels of individual readiness than employees whose activities are less associated with these systems. Furthermore, trust in management was identified as a key determinant of the employees’ individual readiness for the Lean manufacturing implementation. Conclusions: The findings of this thesis indicate that the usage the concept of ‘individual readiness for change’ as a measurement before a quality improvement implementation within the EU food and drink industry could increase researches’ and practitioners’ understanding why some firms perform better than others when applying the same practices.

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